At the City Council meeting of June 15, 2020, Police Chief Kevin Burke presented a new approach to responding to police calls for service in Healdsburg. Chief Burke’s concept envisions a new core value of the Healdsburg PD – that being Community Equity. Establishing Community Equity as a core value includes:
- Blending established police procedures with the concepts of social equity;
- Partnering with academics to establish standards and measures; and
- Redirecting funding towards a Community Equity Team.
With the Community Equity Team, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and a Police Officer provide additional training to staff and the community (in areas like equity and unconscious bias). They also outreach to marginalized communities in Healdsburg following an assessment of current and historical challenges, including offering recommendations to incorporate into policy and operations. The Team would respond to social and mental health concerns that arise during calls that may not require a more typical law enforcement response.
The Chief also previously presented his summary of the Healdsburg Police Department’s approach to a number of key issues currently being discussed across the nation:
𝗕𝗼𝗱𝘆-𝗪𝗼𝗿𝗻 𝗖𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗿𝗮𝘀: The Healdsburg Police Department implemented a body-worn camera program in 2014, equipping all officers with cameras at that time. In 2015, the department expanded the program to include cameras for all field personnel, including code enforcement and parking enforcement officers. This has significantly enhanced our ability to be transparent and meaningfully review and monitor contacts with the community and use of force by an officer.
𝗕𝗶𝗮𝘀 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴: Diversity training is an important priority for the Healdsburg Police Department and California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST). All entry-level police officers receive cultural diversity training in the police academy, and throughout their careers, officers receive updated racial and cultural diversity training on an on-going basis. Topics include procedural justice, implicit bias, and cultural diversity. All Healdsburg police officers completed updated diversity and implicit bias training as recently as November 2019.
𝗠𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗛𝗲𝗮𝗹𝘁𝗵 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴: All officers receive mandated POST training on interacting with people with a mental illness, an intellectual disability, or who have a substance use disorder. Additionally, patrol officers receive training in crisis intervention techniques (C.I.T.). We all know of family members or friends who face challenges like this daily, and we take that with us into our policing.
𝗗𝗲-𝗘𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻: As part of the Police Department’s arrest and control training program, officers receive de-escalation training. Officers use de-escalation techniques whenever possible and use force only when necessary. California law requires that “officers utilize de-escalation techniques, crisis intervention tactics, and other alternatives to force when reasonable,” and it requires all officers be trained in alternatives to deadly force and de-escalation techniques. The department embraces these requirements and follows this mandate.
𝗨𝘀𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗙𝗼𝗿𝗰𝗲: The use of force by law enforcement officers is a matter of critical concern to us all. The Department and its officers recognize the value of all human life and the dignity of every individual. We understand the trust the community bestows upon the Department to use only the force that is reasonable to protect the public welfare. The ultimate objective of every law enforcement encounter is to avoid or minimize injury.
The Police Department’s policy outlines many factors (available to view at https://ci.healdsburg.ca.us/958/Policies-and-Training-SB-978) that officers must weigh when determining whether the use of force is reasonable. Under California law and Police Department policy, officers may only use the amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and the totality of the circumstances known to the officer at the time of the event.
In deadly force situations, officers must evaluate the use of other reasonably available resources and techniques when determining whether to use deadly force. California law and Police Department policy require “where feasible, a peace officer shall, prior to the use of force, make reasonable efforts to identify themselves as a peace officer and to warn that deadly force may be used, unless the officer has objectively reasonable grounds to believe the person is aware of those facts.”
𝗗𝘂𝘁𝘆 𝘁𝗼 𝗜𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝘃𝗲𝗻𝗲: Officers have a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force when they observe another officer going beyond what is reasonable. Failure to comply with this obligation is misconduct and ground for discipline. Department policy also requires that an officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree permitted by law and policy to promptly report these observations to a supervisor.
𝗦𝗵𝗼𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝘁 𝗠𝗼𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗩𝗲𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗹𝗲𝘀: Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are dangerous and rarely effective. Police Department policy requires officers to move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or its occupants. The policy only allows an officer to discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others.
𝗖𝗮𝗿𝗼𝘁𝗶𝗱 𝗖𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗹 𝗛𝗼𝗹𝗱: The carotid control hold is a technique used by law enforcement to control a violent and resisting subject. The Healdsburg Police Department expressly prohibits its use. Strangle holds and chokeholds have always been prohibited.
𝗨𝘀𝗲-𝗼𝗳-𝗙𝗼𝗿𝗰𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗥𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄: We oversee a thorough review of each use-of-force incident. The investigation includes the identification and interview of any civilian witnesses. The on-duty watch commander or uninvolved sergeant does the first review before the Lieutenant reviews the use of force report. After that, the use of force report then goes to the Chief of Police. The Chief then analyzes the information and the officer’s actions to ensure that the actions uphold the policies and practices we’ve discussed here. We regularly monitor and report the frequency and types of force used.
𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝘆: The badge of this Police Department is a symbol of public faith, and members of this department accept it as a public trust. Trust with the community includes being open and honest about what members of this department do, what they say, and what they should be doing. In accordance with California law, the Healdsburg Police Department publishes its policies and procedures as well as all department training outlines on the Police Department website. We also offer a CitizenRIMS interface so the public can see crime data, arrest information, the department media bulletins, and more.
For more information, please contact police @ ci.healdsburg.ca.us.